Apropos the United States v. Huet discussion, let me ask a broader question.
People generally have a Second Amendment right, the Court has held, to have guns in their homes. Most of us could keep a handgun in our nightstands, for instance, setting aside special questions about laws requiring locked storage of guns when children are around. (Those questions are potentially similar to the ones I talk about here, but different enough that I didn’t want to focus on them at this point.)
But federal law bars several classes of people from possessing guns, see 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), including:
- Anyone who has ever been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year (unless the person’s civil rights have been restored, a procedure that isn’t available for federal crimes and isn’t available in some states),
- anyone who has ever “been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has
been committed to a mental institution,”
- anyone who has ever been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime,
- any nonresident alien (with limited exception).
What kinds of restrictions should the government be able to impose on those who live with people who fit in these categories — for instance, because they’re married to those people, have those people as adult children or parents who are living with them, or have those people as houseguests or roommates? Say, for instance, that a visitor comes to stay with a gun owner for a week from outside the country, or the gun owner’s relative who has a long-ago criminal record comes to visit. May the government categorically ban gun possession in the home by people who live with (or temporarily have as houseguests) such prohibited persons, on the theory that such possession in the home necessarily means the prohibited persons possess the gun as well?
May the government ban only the unlocked storage of guns in the home (except when the gun is being physically held by the owner)? Ban even locked storage, unless the lock is a combination lock and the prohibited person never learns the combination, or the lock has a key and the owner of the gun always keeps the key in a place where the prohibited person can’t get it? Only ban storage in common places or rooms to which the prohibited person commonly accesses, so that you can store it in your nightstand (unless the prohibited person sleeps in your room), so long as it’s understood that the prohibited person isn’t allowed in your room? Not impose any bans at all, except for the prohibition on the prohibited person actually picking up the gun?
I’d like to get at exactly how these people’s gun possession might be restricted, rather than just relying on generalities such as “constructive possession.”